Analysis Of Stoneman Douglas School Shooting From The Psychological Perspective

On February 14, of 2018, a former student of a high school located in Florida opened fired inside the school building killing 17 students and injuring 17 others. He later fled with the chaos of other kids rushing outside the high school for protection. Nicholas Cruz was identified as the suspect and later arrested. Nicholas had a very troubled life and was not given enough help that could have stopped him from causing this kind of destruction. The neighbor's described him as a troubled kid.' When she first heard about the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, Holland 'knew it was him.' The saying demonstrates that society had already established a label for him, causing him to perform a deviant act which is shooting up the school. Looking at these circumstances, I connected Nicholas life to labelling theory, that is, a person is bound to act deviant once society puts a label on him/her. In this case, it’s Nicholas being labelled as a troubled kid and his school shooting act as the deviant act. I also connected his life to the psychopath theory. Nickolas had stone-throwing fights with another kid and even abused small animals proving his irritability and aggressiveness. On one occasion, he called his mother a 'useless bitch' and threw a chair, a dog bowl across the room as she took away his Xbox. Giving no regard or respect to his mother proves how Nicholas failed to conform to social norms. He even shot chickens with a gun proving how he disregarded his and other's safety. Having no remorse, failed to conform to social norms and disregard to his or others safety prove him being a psychopath. As a society we have failed to provide mental help to those in need and with the current lenient gun laws in place, kids like Nicholas Cruz are going to easily hurt people and cause destruction. In this essay, I will summarize the entire case and explain the theories in detail to explain why they connect with Nicholas’s life. Furthermore, I will also talk about gun laws and mental health issues regarding teens.

Summary of the Crime

It was a normal day at Stoneman Douglas High School until in the afternoon, Nicholas Cruz was dropped off to the school by an Uber before dismissal time. Cruz activated the fire alarm causing kids to leave their classroom and opened fired at them, killing 17 and injuring 17. Soon after, thier was a code red drill sent out the entire school, which means a lock down, and an armed school resource officer was informed about this, but he stayed outside the building, instead of countering the shooter and protecting kids. Nicholas kept on shooting for about 6 minutes, until his riffle got jammed and escaped the premises with the other kids running outside to protect themselves. Nicholas was later arrested by police and sent to Broward county jail.

Cruz had a very disturbing childhood. He was an orphan and was adopted by Lynda Cruz who also died in 2018, leaving Nicholas really depressed and disturbed. After his mom Lynda died, Nicholas was given a place to stay by James and Kimberly Snead who let Nicholas move into their Parkland home for the remaining time before he was charged for the attack on Stoneman Douglas High School.

School records indicate Nikolas was found to be developmentally delayed at age 3. He also had other problems, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, depression and an emotional behavioral disability. Nicholas’s mental situation was so bad that his mother described him to police as autistic. This proves that Nicholas was mentally unfit, yet the school and the authorities failed to keep an eye on Nicholas and give him additional treatment to get him stable. Nicholas’s mom feared he would go and buy a gun since he loved hunting and being violent, but the employee, at the gun store, told Lynda that Cruz was 18 and was considered a legal adult and allowed to pick up the gun unless she believed he was not fit to own one. Lynda told the employee at the gun store: “No he’s fine. I just want to make sure he’s safe, you know, he’s young, the first gun,” The employee at the gun store told detectives. This proves that the gun laws in the states are so weak, that people like Nicholas Cruz can easily assess guns and cause destruction.


The high school shooting that took place in Florida wasn’t the first shooting that took place and killed so many innocent kids. According to CNN, In 46 weeks this year, there have been 45 school shootings. That's nearly an average of one school shooting a week. These stats prove that the current laws in the states are not effective at all and there should be new and strict gun laws in place to protect people and kids. Secondly the mental state of anyone, especially teenagers is very crucial and more steps like counselling, a course regarding mental health made mandatory for all high school kids, should be taken so kids know what they should do if they encounter any mental problems.

In the case of Nicholas Cruz, he was mentally unfit and the school and the authorities (law enforcement/police) had failed to provide him with treatment. The school and the law enforcement agencies had failed as an institute to keep their student and citizens safe and keep an eye on kids that are prone to causing trouble and destruction. I connected Nicholas Cruz’s school shooting offence to psychopathic theory based off his personality. A psychopath is someone who has no guilt or remorse for anything and can't have long relationships with anyone. Out of the 3 characteristics that prove that Nicholas is a psychopath are the following. His school shooting act could be considered an act of aggression and killing so many students proves how Nicholas had no guilt and remorse, because no normal, sane person would ever kill these many student’s and wouldn’t realize what he/she did. Nicholas has been writing letters in jail and haven’t even once mentioned about the school shooting act he committed, instead wrote on one of the letters that he hates jail and doesn't it like it. Another quality of a psychopath would be an act of deviance. The school shooting act itself is a deviant act considered in society. Even before the school shooting, Nicholas’s moms friend shared how Nicholas had “screaming episodes” and would tell his mother to “go f--- herself” and “I wish you to die.” Saying stuff like this to an adult and the person that took care of you is a deviant act only psychopaths would do. Thirdly Nicholas using guns for hunting and bringing a gun to murder kids without any fear or regards for the students safety or even his safety gets him qualified to be a psychopath. Traits like these are not found in a normal person, and institutions like schools should have people as well as resources to tackle with these issues and patients so we can solve this issue from the root cause before it spreads and hurts anyone.

Another theory I connected this case with is the labelling theory which is the label society puts on any individual causing that individual to act according to the label, and acting deviant. In Nicholas’s case, he was known around as the troubled kid in his school, as well as his neighborhood. The neighbor's described him as a troubled kid.' When she first heard about the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, Holland 'knew it was him.' the saying demonstrates that society had already established a label for him, causing him to perform a deviant act which is shooting up the school. Garvey, a friend of Nicholas’s mom Lynda Cruz described Cruz as an “odd kid” who “made us all nervous,” she said. According to labelling theory, these labels such as weird kid, odd kid put on an individual which in this case would be Cruz, would cause people like Cruz to act according to the label. In other words, his school shooting act was the result of his labels put on him.

The psychopath theory explains how one individual can be so remorseless and not guilty of the hideous crimes they commit which makes them a psychopath. Nicholas had the exact same traits as a psychopath. He had no guilt for anything he did, had aggression issues, no regards for his or anyone else's safety. With traits like these in Nicholas, he was meant to cause harm to people since he simply did not care, which in this case, he shot up a school, as compared to Labelling theory, suggests all the labels put towards Nicholas by his neighbors, peers and others caused him to act deviant and according to the label given to him.


Nicholas and many other kids in the state require a lot of attention and monitoring to ensure they don’t hurt anyone. His case proves how society has failed to look after kids that mentally need help, and new guns laws need to be made to ensure no one gets the hold of a gun unless they are police officers or military people. Guns do not solve anything, instead good relationships with people and talking to one another does. In this case, Nicholas’s access to a gun at a young age highlights the flaw in the gun laws and proves that anyone can get hold of a gun. Secondly, the neighbors and everyone knew him as a troubled kid but no one acted and helped him out to prevent the disaster he caused. Institutes like school that have many kids and are responsible for monitoring kids are failing to do their duty and ensure kids like Nicholas are reported to authorities and counselors so they are given the help they need and are monitored by authorities. The psychopath theory and labelling theory both help to understand this case better since both theories have thier own explanation to this crime, but in the end, we need to understand this by a saying, “guns don't kill people, but people kill people. If we have good relationships with people and mental health is not stigmatized, and people including teens go to counselors when needed help, there will be less crime. 

16 August 2021
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